I worked as a rugby mascot and ended up humiliated
Dressing as Brizzley Bear is bad enough, even before they make you do the worm
In October last year I accidentally stumbled across the website Groupon. When I found it, I might just have had a curious browse and then moved on to the next internet novelty, perhaps a blog of potatoes that look like Danny Dyer, or a video of a bear with a sparkler stuck in its urethra. But I didn’t, I had been looking for something like this: my life had become so boring, devoid of spontaneity and excitement. I was ready to change my life, and had been looking for the right tool. Now suddenly I felt exhilarated by what I saw: a buffet of possibility, a Narnia of discounts, a wardrobe into a magical otherworld teaming with adventure. And I dived in.
Since then I’ve been going on a different Groupon every week: I’ve learnt graffiti, visited psychics, had a colonic and lots else besides. It’s been life changing. But word of my new lifestyle has spread. I get calls, text and e-mails from people laying down all sorts of gauntlets, totally unrelated to Groupon, but united by the simple spirit of “why not?”. I got this message on Facebook a few weeks ago from my mate Andy:
I obviously didn’t do it. (I’m not drinking at the moment). However, there was one offer I could not wriggle my way out of. In mid-March I moonlighted as the mascot for Bristol Rugby Club: for one day only I was “Brizzley Bear”.
The offer came from Dan. A comedy promoter and marketing executive who has spent five years of Saturdays running around The Memorial Ground in Bristol pretending to be a giant bear. The kids love Brizzley, so your biggest job is giving all of them high-fives and fist bumps. The younger ones find it magical, the older ones just try and rip your head off. I must have ruffled a hundred heads, had a dozen hugs, and posed for a thousand photos. They swarm you as you walk around the pitch. I was not required to complete a CRB check prior to the gig, I could have been anyone: for all they knew it might have been Jimmy Saville under that costume. And the suit is incredibly sweaty; this is a picture of me after the game:
Dan’s signature move as Brizzley Bear is the worm, which the crowd love. So every time I walked around the pitch, I was met with a chorus of Bristollian oiks screaming “Do the worm! Brizzley! Do the worm!” Now, I can’t do the twatting worm. I tried to sate them with a hastily improvised robot, and I also tried to twerk, but they weren’t interested. All they wanted was the worm: “DO THE WORM BRIZZLEY!”
Close to the end of the game, by the family stand, an enthusiastic steward tried to steamroller me into doing it. “Who wants to see Brizzley do the worm?!” he asked. The crowd erupted. I was furious-I mean, how dare he? I thought “I’m going to maul this prick! I’m going to rip his face off!” And then remembered I wasn’t actually a bear, but was in fact just a pathetic little dweeb. I tried to whisper to the steward that I couldn’t actually do the worm, but this is very hard to do whilst you have a furry space-ship for a head. He couldn’t hear me above the relentless chorus of “WORM! WORM! WORM!” and the slow hand-claps, so I realised: “I’m going to have to do the worm aren’t I? The actual shitting worm. I CANT DO THE WORM!”
I did my best. It wasn’t a proper worm. It looked like I was trying to have sex with the pitch. Some children booed, a five year old threw their burger at me, an adult ripped up his season ticket and was later seen in the car-park burning a home-made effigy of Brizzley. I had failed. I had let Dan and Bristol down. But at least I was finished, the humiliation was over. I could get showered and changed, and walk unrecognized back to my car as just simple old Max Dickins.
CUT TO: Monday morning. Dan checks the Brizzley Bear Twitter account, and this is what he finds:
WHAT?! Go f*** Goldilocks? I don’t even know where she lives! I am being trolled by a 12 year old boy because I can’t do the worm! How has this happened? My Groupon Adventure had been about getting more excitement into my life, so it just goes to show: be careful what you wish for.